2012 BMW 328i Sport Verdict
Though we've been charged with bias toward BMW products, a review of our comparison test results will show that the only Bimmer that consistently wins anything around here is the 3 Series. It's got the right combination of performance, practicality, and driving fun. But for as much fun as we had with our 328i Sport, some tarnish appeared on the silver over the past year.
There were persistent small issues. The automatic engine start/stop feature made the car shake like a train was passing every time it restarted the car. The driver's seat developed an annoying squeak that fixed itself. The electronic throttle pedal had a dead spot at tip-in that made it difficult to engage the clutch smoothly, which could be solved by driving in Sport mode all the time.
The first major problem occurred around 7600 miles when the parking sensors freaked out. One day, they simply went to full panic mode, beeping constantly and showing that I was millimeters from objects both front and rear. No amount of turning the car off and on would fix them, and they come on automatically every time reverse was engaged. The dealer reset the module and the problem only returned once, but was solved with a restart.
The 328's most serious problem occurred at 14,533 miles, when the power steering failed. Everything was fine when it was parked, but the next morning, it was nearly impossible to turn the steering wheel. A warning message on the infotainment screen suggested the car was still safe to drive to the dealer, but I found it too difficult to steer out of the parking space, much less on a public street. It spent a week at the dealer having its entire power steering rack replaced free of charge under warranty. Per the paperwork, it was an internal fault, but I don't know what actually broke. The dealer says that in warranty cases like this it doesn't disassemble broken components -- it just ships them back to the automaker.
The biggest issue I had with the 328, was the change in objectives evident in this car. Driving a previous-generation 328 hammered the point home, illustrating how the 3 Series has switched from being a sport sedan with some luxury bits to a luxury sedan with a Sport setting. Even with the optional adaptive sport suspension, the new 3 Series is softly damped and feels a little bouncy, especially in the nose. Driven in Normal or Eco modes, the car isn't significantly more exciting or engaging than any other sedan. You've got to put it in Sport every time you start it to get the experience you expect from a 3 Series.
The good news is the 328 is still a good car. The up side of that softer damping is a better ride around town. In Sport, it's still among the best-handling sedans in its segment and very rewarding to drive. I found I needed to take it on a back road on a regular basis to remind myself what makes it so good. It grips well, the steering is communicative, the chassis is composed and predictable, and the turbo-four makes good low- and mid-range power.
It's a good car in general, as well. The stretched wheelbase makes the interior more roomy and the seats are comfortable on long road trips. iDrive has fought its way from the depths to the top of the business in infotainment. The controls are well-laid-out and neither cluttered nor lacking in features. It averaged better than 25 mpg over its 12 month stay despite plenty of hard driving, easily cresting 30 mpg on the highway.
The 328 continues to be a great car. Prioritizing luxury over sportiness has dulled its edge slightly, but the compromise is understandable. What isn't is the failure of a major component in less than 15,000 miles, and that combined with the other, smaller issues showed some tarnish on the BMW's luster. When it arrived, I asked if BMW had really put $50,000 worth of effort into my car to reflect the steep price tag. After 12 months, I have to go with: not quite.
|Service Life||14 mo/23,693 mi|
|Price as Tested||$50,845|
|Options Premium||($3600: Power front seats, moonroof, keyless entry); Technology ($2550: navigation, head-up display); Sport ($2500 18-inch wheels, sport suspension, sport seats)|
|Average fuel economy||25.7 mpg|
|EPA City/Hwy/Comb Fuel Econ||23/34/27 mpg|
|CO2 emissions||0.75 lb/mi|
|Problem Areas||Power steering, parking sensors|
|Normal-Wear Cost||$1389.90 (New Pirelli Cinturato P7 RFT Tires)|
|3-Year Residual Value*||$28,982|
|* Automotive Lease Guide|
|2012 BMW 328i Sport|
|DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT||Front engine, RWD|
|ENGINE TYPE||Turbocharged I-4, aluminum block/head|
|VALVETRAIN||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl|
|DISPLACEMENT||121.9 cu in/1997 cc|
|POWER (SAE NET)||240 hp @ 5000 rpm|
|TORQUE (SAE NET)||255 lb-ft @ 1250 rpm|
|WEIGHT TO POWER||14.2 lb/hp|
|SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR||Struts, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar|
|BRAKES, F;R||12.3-in vented disc; 11.8-in vented disc, ABS|
|WHEELS||8.0 x 18-in, cast aluminum|
|TIRES|| 225/45R18 91Y|
Pirelli Cinturato P7
|TRACK, F/R||60.3/61.9 in|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||182.5 x 71.3 x 56.3 in|
|TURNING CIRCLE||37.1 ft|
|CURB WEIGHT||3409 lb|
|WEIGHT DIST, F/R||49/51%|
|HEADROOM, F/R||40.3/37.7 in|
|LEGROOM, F/R||42.0/35.1 in|
|SHOULDER ROOM, F/R||55.1/55.1 in|
|CARGO VOLUME||13.0 cu ft|
|ACCELERATION TO MPH|
|PASSING, 45-65 MPH||3|
|QUARTER MILE||14.1 sec @ 98.2 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||113 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.89 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||26.3 sec @ 0.70 g (avg)|
|TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH||2150 rpm|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$50,845|
|AIRBAGS||Dual front, front side, f/r curtain|
|BASIC WARRANTY||4 yrs/50,000 mi|
|POWERTRAIN WARRANTY||4 yrs/50,000 mi|
|ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE||4 yrs/unlimited|
|FUEL CAPACITY||15.8 gal|
|EPA CITY/HWY ECON||23/34 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||147/99 kW-hrs/100 mi|
|CO2 EMISSIONS||0.72 lb/mi|
|RECOMMENDED FUEL||Unleaded premium|